“The first time I attended a National Guard family event in 1999, I felt like I had been abducted by aliens!” recalls Mary Corbett, author of National Guard 101: A Handbook for Spouses. “I didn’t understand anything! I had never been in an armory before. I didn’t know the difference between an officer and an enlisted soldier. I didn’t even know how to address the commander or his wife!”
Corbett decided to “wing it,” rationalizing that since her husband was “just” a Guardsman she wasn’t a “real” military wife. After all, military spouses lived on bases, operated within a strict structure of rank, and dealt with long deployments. Thank goodness she didn’t have to worry about those things! Of course, she could have never guessed, and neither could anyone else, that in less than two years, four hijacked airliners would forever alter the purpose and public profile of National Guard soldiers and those who love them forever. On September 11th, 2001, Corbett became a military wife. But, as she realized later, she had always been one.
Written in a lively and informal style, National Guard 101: A Handbook for Spouses demystifies the Guard’s unique hybrid civilian-military lifestyle. It is a must-read book for every National Guard family member. Corbett’s book covers a broad range of topics--from the history of the National Guard and understanding rank to Guard social life and Family Programs. Corbett also details the benefits and assistance resources available to Guard families and guides readers through the process of setting up a Personal Assistance League (PAL) to provide support during both short and long-term deployments.
Ten years after National Guard 101’s original publication, National Guard spouses are still “holding down the fort.” In fact, in 2020, more National Guard troops were activated than any time since World War II due to the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, and civil unrest. Year after year, the National Guard evolves to meet different threat environments. What doesn’t change is the vital role that family members play in supporting soldiers.